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NHL Trade Rumors: Washington and Pittsburgh battling it out for Kevin Shattenkirk?

According to a couple of different reports, the rivals in Washington and Pittsburgh might both be circling the best defenseman believed to be on the trade market in St. Louis Blues Kevin Shattenkirk

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday afternoon so the reports and rumors are flying around now like crazy. One popular one making the rounds is that the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals could be doing battle over trying to acquire the best known defenseman on the trading block - the Blues Kevin Shattenkirk

There are also reports that the New York Rangers -believed to be a team (if not THE team) Shattenkirk wants to sign with this summer are also in the running to trade for the talented defenseman this week.

At stake could be the balance of power in the Metropolitan Division (and thus whole Eastern Conference, basically). Famously in 2009, the Penguins and Capitals were both in talks with NYI about Bill Guerin - Pittsburgh anted up with the better offer, got the veteran and would go on to defeat Washington in the playoffs on the way to the Stanley Cup.

It's no guarantee that the team that lands Shattenkirk will win the Cup, of course, but boy they seem a lot better on paper. The Caps- as we've mentioned as far back as our season preview-  haven't upgraded their defense that the Penguins shredded last spring, counting instead on the growth of players like Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. Adding Shattenkirk to Carlson, Alzner and Niskanen gives them a very formidable top-4. Failing to add him leaves them again susceptible to having lesser players in larger roles.

Pittsburgh, to me, really doesn't need Shattenkirk as badly, being as they have Kris Letang and Justin Schultz on the right-side of the depth chart (whereas Niskanen is adept at playing left-side as we remember). New York could badly use a puck-moving top-4 defenseman of any magnitude.

So far, only peripheral moves have been made, the Pens traded for Ron Hainsey (best served in a 4/5/6 depth role) and Washington added Tom Gilbert and then assigned him to the AHL in a purely insurance type of role.

Going for Shattenkirk will be a home-run type move. This summer with the expansion draft and expiring contracts, both Pittsburgh and Washington figure to part ways with 5-6 regular players. For both of these current groups, 2017 is one last chance with these exact teams to make a run for glory. Now we'll see which team in the Metro, if any, feels bold enough to push a lot of chips in the middle of the table